'Casino' nearing a Bond jackpot

Latest win o'seas puts pic near franchise-best cash-out

Concluding one month as the No. 1 hit internationally, "Casino Royale" is on track to become within the next 14 days the biggest boxoffice smash of all the 21 James Bond films released to date.

"Casino" grossed an estimated $36.2 million during the weekend from 7,730 screens in 63 markets, raising its international boxoffice total to $247.2 million and worldwide cume to $376.1 million. The reigning Bond boxoffice champ is 2002's "Die Another Day," which tallied $271.1 million internationally and $431.3 million worldwide.

The latest Agent 007 adventure should make up and surpass the gap in worldwide gross by "the weekend after next," said Mark Zucker, distribution president at Sony Pictures Releasing International, which is handling "Casino" in the U.S. and overseas. Zucker added that "Casino" will break "Day's" international total by this weekend.

The past frame saw "Casino" register the biggest Bond film openings ever in Australia (No. 1 with an estimated $5.5 million from 405 locations), Mexico ($1.5 million from 564 screens), New Zealand ($800,000 from 91 spots) and in each of the six other Latin American markets it played (Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador). This weekend, "Casino" opens in Brazil and Uruguay, then Korea on Dec. 21 and Italy on Jan. 5.

Warner Bros. International's animation title about singing penguins, "Happy Feet," wound up in the No. 2 spot for the weekend, grossing an estimated $25.4 million from about 6,000 screens in 37 markets and lifting its overseas total to $40.8 million. No. 2 openings in the U.K. (an estimated $6.8 million from 713 screens) and France ($2.4 million from 830 sites), plus a No. 1 bow in Spain ($4.7 million from 470 sites), accounted for much of the weekend total.

Finishing at No. 3 for the weekend is "The Holiday," which bowed simultaneously with its U.S. debut in nine territories via Universal/United International Pictures for an estimated $9.6 million from 1,050 screens. Sony handled the title domestically, where it ranked No. 2 for the weekend with an estimated $13.5 million.

Director-writer Nancy Meyers' seasonal-related romantic comedy, starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black, opened at No. 3 (after "Casino" and "Happy Feet") in the U.K. with an estimated $5.3 million from 420 screens, including preview showings. In Spain, the tally was an estimated $2.6 million from 282 screens, while Russia provided an estimated $1 million from 227 sites. "Holiday" also bowed in Denmark, East Africa, Iceland, Romania, South Africa and United Arab Emirates. It will expand this weekend in 18 new territories, including Germany and Korea.

At No. 4 for the frame is DreamWorks Animation/UIP's "Flushed Away," which grossed an estimated $9.3 million from 3,382 spots in 33 territories, lifting its overseas total to $35.4 million. The biggest of its 10 new markets is Germany, where "Flushed" generated an estimated $1 million from 680 screens.

Martin Scorsese's crime drama "The Departed" muscled its way to fifth place overall with an estimated $7.6 million from 2,628 screens in 42 markets, raising its overseas gross total past the $100 million mark ($100.8 million). A No. 2 opening in Germany (an estimated $2.2 million at 447 sites) helped.

"Open Season," SPRI's animation title, continues to pump out grosses overseas with an estimated $5 million for the weekend from 3,300 screens in 52 territories, raising its international total to $87 million (vs. $85 million domestic). It recorded a solid opening in Italy with an estimated $2 million from 484 screens; the Japan bow was less impressive, with an estimated $1 million from 446 locations.

20th Century Fox International's "Borat" nudged past the $100 million mark internationally with an estimated weekend gross of $4.9 million from 2,000 screens in 33 territories, raising its overseas total to $104.8 million. In Australia, the Sacha Baron Cohen satire yielded an estimated $1 million for the frame from 279 screens for a market cume of $10.4 million.

"Deja Vu" garnered an estimated $4.4 million from 1,175 screens 10 markets, five of which were new. The Buena Vista International release placed No. 2 in its second weekend in Spain (an estimated $2.5 million from 400 screens, up 1% from the previous weekend, for a market cume of $6.2 million). The Denzel Washington action title opened at No. 1 in Greece, Singapore, Thailand, Israel and Indonesia, and placed No. 3 in its third Mexico weekend with an estimated $400,000 from 400 screens, for a market cume of $3.3 million. This weekend will see "Deja Vu" open in the U.K., France, Belgium, Holland, Russia and Italy.

Clint Eastwood's "Letters From Iwo Jima," the companion to his "Flags of Our Fathers" that relates the World War II battle from the Japanese perspective, bowed at No. 1 in Japan with an estimated $4.4 million from 402 screens, capturing 40% of the top-five market share, as per Warner Bros. International. WBI's "Flags," meanwhile, continues to limp along internationally, with an estimated $355,000 for the weekend from 414 screens in 16 markets for an overseas total of $22.1 million. Its cume through the seventh weekend in the Japan market is $13 million.

Lionsgate's horror title "Saw III" pulled an estimated $2.5 million for the weekend from 31 territories, lifting its international total to $55.5 million. BVI's "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" registered an estimated $2.4 million from 1,390 sites in 14 markets, lifting its overseas total to $13.7 million. "Deck the Halls," Fox's holiday comedy, managed an estimated $2 million from 1,200 screens in 29 markets for an overseas total of $6 million. UIP's "Charlotte's Web" opened at No. 3 in Australia with an estimated $950,000 from 258 spots.

Other cume updates: Universal's "Children of Men," $26.6 million; Paramount/UIP's "An Inconvenient Truth," $15.6 million; WBI's "The Prestige," $26.2 million; Universal's "Seven Dwarfs 2," $29.9 million; WBI's "Death Note: The Last Name," $39.6 million; Summit Entertainment/Universal's "Step Up," $34 million; and BVI's "The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D," $1.8 million.
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